Monday, 29 September 2008

On the road 4

Healing power of voices
I was introduced to Dr Goh at Selayang Hospital. She is the founder of the Hospice centre whose mission is taking care of dying people in the rightful buddhist tradition. I was in discussion with her to see if a collaboration between her centre with the 1000 stars foundation in Bangkok was possible. The talk was promising.

In the lobby where patients waited in agony, I watched impermanence and emptiness of self in close inspection. Hospital is where life begins and ends. To me it's also the most practical place to observe Buddha's teaching on life's impermanence.

Dr Goh told me the importance of talking with the dying people in dignity and truth. And it reminded me of a hospital ruin I once visited in Perga, Turkey. I was informed by the tour guide that the doctors, during the Byzantine period, built a long tunnel filled with water and plants for patients to walk inside.

And the doctors themselves, being sympathetic, would talk to the patients in angelic voices through a specially designed sound "holes" via the tunnel. And it healed many of the patients with the voice therapy. I found it so miraculous if we knew how to watch our speech and make good use of it.

At the hospital lobby where I bid farewell to Dr Goh, I suddenly thought of Brian Eno and his soothing, haunting music.

The British composer, once laid on bed in hospital after a serious accident, said of his new discovery on music combined with the environment. It all happened with a broken tape recorder playing music so faint it almost blended with the sounds of the rain outside Eno's room. Hence he had an idea of combining these two elements together and became the pioneer of ambient music.

The hospital, after all, is not such a bad place to get yourself in touch with enlightenment.

Ruins at Perga, founded around 1000 BC.

Music for airport, Eno's debut in 1972.

Sunday, 28 September 2008


The End

Leaves are falling. It's the end of summer, and the beginning of autumn.

Temperatures are dropping. It's the end of sunny days, and the beginning of cool windy days.

I am aging. It's almost the end of my 30s, and the beginning of my 40s.

It's 3.32am in KL. It's almost the end of the night, and the beginning of a new day.

See, nothing stays put at one point of time. Something is ending and something begins.

Old couple strolling along Hyde park, London.

On the road 3

Faith that never rocks
A few phrases to share on the power of faith when one's walking on the middle path.

Faith is courage; it is creative while despair is always destructive. -- David S.Muzzey.
Faith is a passionate intuition. -- William Wordsworth.
Faith is like radar that sees through the fog. -- Corrie Ten Boom.
Faith is the bird that sings when the dawn is still dark. -- Rabindranath Tagore.
Faith ... must be enforced by reason. When faith becomes blind it dies. -- Mahatma Gandhi.
Faith and doubt both are needed - not as antagonists, but working side by side to take us around the unknown curve. -- Lillian Smith.
Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase. -- Martin Luther King Jr.

For me, faith is not knowing what you will be rewarded, but you are still happily pursuing it.

The holy rock at Kyaiktiyo pagoda, Myanmar.

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Room with a view

Music and surroundings
Tadao Ando, once in his book, wrote about his experience of music connection when he saw a really mystic view somewhere in China. It was Brian Eno's music which floated in his mind and completed his illusionarary feel of what he saw.

Out of my room window from a homestay in Essaouira, I was greeted with a peaceful scenery that reminded me of German composer, Anuragi's soulful piano. The music played in my head so clearly I felt I was engulfed in the middle of a concert.

The surroundings had become the music. And the music the surroundings.

Sunset by the window, with a lone seagull.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Take a peep

The laundry man and his
white blankets

Walking through the backyard of a guesthouse in Luang Prabang, I came across an old laundry man at work. It was in the middle of the day, the sun was high up and he was putting all his washed blankets on the clothe line, a task he was probably sick of doing and couldn't wait to finish it.

A few metres away from him, I was actually enjoying my view and marvelled at the simple beauty of a daily life.

The next thing I noticed, a barking dog came after me.

Beauty lies in everywhere, even in mundane daily life.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008


Writer by the Seine river

I took this picture upon entering the Shakespeace & Company bookstore in Paris. It was an old building with worn-out bookshelves and furniture, full of tourists and local book lovers. But I was drawn to the quotes written in white chalk by Sylvia Beach.

It was also a dream for me to have a little bookstore, better still if it comes attached with a cafe selling teas from around the world.

Life is beautiful when it's at its simplest.

Remember Ernest Hemingway in Paris? I bet you do.

Architexture 1

Let there be light

I am in love with Tadao Ando's architectural works. From the Garden of fine art in Kyoto to the Temple of water in Hyogo. You can find his passion and dedication everywhere in Japan.

Born in Osaka, Ando did not receive any formal architectural schooling. Instead, he trained himself by reading and travelling extensively through Africa, Europe and the US.

In opposition to traditional Japanese acrchitecture, Ando creates spaces of enclosure rather than openness. He uses walls to establish a human zone and to counter the monotony of commercialism. On the exterior, the walls deflect the surrounding urban chaos, while on the interior they enclose a private space. To him, walls are the most basic elements of architecture, but they can also be the most enriching.

Like any great photographer or painter, Tadao Ando is also a master of light. I saw clear evidence of this creative use when I stepped into the Church of the Light in Ibaraki. I was immediately taken aback by the sheer power of the presence of light.

Ando often uses Zen philosophies when conceptualizing his structures. The space of the chapel is defined by light which enters from behind the altar from a cross cut in the concrete wall. Beyond the walls there is profound emptiness ozzing a sense of serenity in the stark contrast between light and shadow.

I could feel the divine power of light touching my soul.

Streaming light from God, Ibaraki of Osaka